Martian winds have carved massive mountains in the Gale Crater on the Red Planet. NASA’s Curiosity spaceship has sent new data regarding the surface of Mars. Its atmosphere is known to be about a hundred times thinner than the atmosphere of our planet. However, it is considered to be thick enough to sustain swirling winds, clouds, and weather.
- Martian winds have carved into the Gale Crater, creating massive mountains.
- NASA scientists received many new data from the Curiosity rover.
- The spacecraft is bound to continue its study, looking at the structure of the dunes.
These are the natural forces which can carve into the landscape of the Red Planet. NASA scientists have used the data provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Curiosity rover. Thus, they have revealed that Martian winds have been transporting sediment and dust out of the Gale Crater for billions of years. These winds carved into the landscape, developing the 5.5-kilometer-high Mount Sharp which is a layered mountain.
The Gale Crater was estimated to measure about 96 miles in width. It formed after an asteroid impacted the area more than 3.6 billion years ago. Later, ancient rivers which flow through this area have deposited several types of sediments like sand, silt, and rocks into the basin, filling it. After some time, when the climate of the Red Planet became drier, Martian winds started eroding the sediments which were once deposited.
NASA officials stated that back in 2000 scientists proposed that the mound located at Gale Crater’s center represents a remnant from the erosions caused by winds in what once was a filled basin. The new study developed some calculations regarding the volume of material which was carved and removed by winds which were estimated at 15,000 cubic miles. The study analyzes the effects of the winds around and in the crater after scientists multiplied it by a billion years.
Curiosity craft examined crescent-shaped dunes starting from 2015 and up until 2016. Nevertheless, the latest work developed by the spacecraft focused on some ribbon-looking linear dunes, analyzing them when the summer season starts and the windiest period of the year occurs. Nathan Bridges, a Curiosity science team member at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, stated that the linear dunes the sand is carried along the ribbon-like path while the shape of the ribbon can oscillate back and forth, but also side to side. Curiosity is bound to continue its analysis of the composition and movement of sand particles at the linear dunes.
Image source: wikipedia